The various freedoms that were enjoyed during the reign of Pakatan Harapan have evaporated with the arrival of the new government, said human rights group Suaram.
Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said the new ruling power had walked back on its human rights promises.
“The Perikatan Nasional government does not inspire confidence.
“The government’s lackadaisical attitude towards human rights issues have us believe that they hold human rights issues in low regard,” he said today at the launch of the 2020 Suaram human rights report.
Sevan said security laws that permitted detention without trial were abused throughout 2020.
“The pandemic and the restriction of movement did not slow down the use of such laws.
“These laws were often justified on the grounds of crime prevention. The Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) was used more often in 2020 than in previous years.”
The PH government had said that it sought to review, not repeal Sosma.
It was considering amending the provisions of the law to limit detention without trial to 28 days and to allow detainees access to legal counsel.
Suaram documentation officer Kenneth Chang said all this was dead in the water now that PH had collapsed.
He said there was widespread use of Sosma, the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) 1959, and the Dangerous Drug Act 1985 to facilitate detention without trial.
He said under Sosma, 408 people were detained in 2018; 213 in 2019; and 770 in 2020.
As for Poca, 499 were detained in 2018; 908 in 2019; and 667 in 2020.
Chang said the numbers were from official documentation and data from parliament sources.
Sevan said the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) bill was inferior to the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission bill drafted by the former government and which it replaced.
“The IPCC was roundly criticised by civil society as being inadequate to address police complaints and misconduct.”
He added freedom of expression continued to be curtailed in Malaysia through the use of Sedition Act 1948 and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
“There is a drastic increase in the application of the latter. There is a high number of investigations and charges this year laid against those who are believed to be seditious against the issue of race, religion and royalty and spreading Covid-19 fake news on social media.”
Meanwhile, abuse of the sedition law for political purposes had grown compared to the previous three years, he said.
PH was ousted in March after 22 months of power and replaced by PN. – TMI